Any pet store will sell hamster or guinea pig’s food, this doesn’t mean that pet rats should eat it. Pet rats need nutritional values that other rodents’ food won’t satisfy.
In general, you should not give hamster or gerbil food to a pet rat. Even though it’s not dangerous, the food won’t be nutritious enough for a pet rat to have a healthy diet.
Each rodent has different dietary requirements.
You could give it to them for a short period of time or once in a while if you can’t avoid it. But keep in mind that the food will be either extra on fat or it won’t have enough nutrients for a pet rat.
But let’s dive in this matter some more!
Is Hamster And Gerbil Food Good For Pet Rats?
Each food mix has different ingredients on it. For example, hamster and gerbil food will be high on sunflower seeds and corn. This mix is made specifically for these rodents and according to their nutritional needs.
Pet rats can eat it, but won’t thrive from it. They’ll also be picky about some things and leave them on the plate.
In general, most of the things in it won’t be dangerous for you rat to eat. But they’re not as nutritious as their own mix. For example, the sunflower seeds are too high on fat.
Corn is another main ingredient in these mixes. These grains can contain high levels of fungus and is known to be carcinogenic. This is not good for a pet rat.
Hamster food tends to be very fatty for a rat and is usually based on alfalfa. Pet rats have great difficulty to digest it, so another big no-no!
Pet rats have different nutritional needs and hamster food won’t meet those needs. Plus our ratties also need a lot of other minerals and vitamins that they can’t produce themselves. This is why it’s so important to buy food that was specifically designed for pet rats.
Truth is, pet rats will eat almost anything you give them. It won’t hurt to give it to them once in a while if, for some reason, you have nothing else. But, in my opinion, you shouldn’t give hamster food to your pet rats at all.
There’s so much fresh fruit, veggies, cereals and many others that will be more delicious and healthy for your pet rats! Plus, these things you usually have at home already, so you don’t need to resort to hamster food.
A good mix of pet rat ration and fresh food is a perfect diet for your companion!
The only exception I’d give is if, for some reason, you run out of rat food. It happens and it has happened to us. We couldn’t get new pet rat food before ours run out and we needed to improvise. If it so happens, I’d advise to try and pick out most of the fatty seeds and give them extra fresh veggies or fruit as well.
This way, your rattie will be able to keep a balanced diet for the day!
Rats Need Protein
Pet rats, as with pretty much every living being, need protein!
This helps them build and repair tissues among many other things.
Now, most of the food recommended for pet rats already has enough protein for them. So you don’t need to focus on giving them more protein sources.
If there’s a medical reason your pet rat needs more protein, there are some ways to do so. Your local vet might advise you on what you should give your rat as a supplement, along with some food that’s rich in protein!
The most basic ways to supplement it is to give them eggs (hard-boiled are a tasty treat!) or even some chicken.
Of course, like with any other food, too much protein can also have a bad impact on their health, so don’t overfeed them!
From my experience, a hard-boiled egg or some meat baby food once per week is more than enough. They both make excellent treats and they’re very healthy for your rodent friend.
Getting Quality Pet Rat Food
As we already talked, anything is good as long as it’s designed for pet rats.
When buying ration for your small companions, there are two ways to go about it: a mix of ration and seeds or pellets/blocks (similar to pellets, but bigger).
Either of these options is good and it all depends on what you can find available and your ratties taste. For example, the problem with the mixes of loose ration and seeds is that sometimes your pet rats can be picky and will choose to eat only the seeds they like.
This means that some nutrients won’t get to them. That and some of their food will always go to waste.
Mixes of loose seeds have other issues for me as well. They can still have some alfalfa in it sometimes or other seeds that are not advisable for pet rats. Like the corn! I’ve seen lots of seed mixes for rats that contain lots of corn.
The corn can be good, but it also can contain fungus, which is bad for your pet rat!
With pellets, though, all the food and nutrients they need is condensed in each pellet. Your companion will love them, make almost no waste of their food and get a good and balanced nutrition.
Personally, and for the reasons mentioned above, I always go with pellets. I really like the Oxbow Regal Rat Food, they’re very well balanced and the ratties seem to love it all the time. This ration comes in form of pellets, so every nutritional need will be met!
I really like the fact that they come in triangular shapes, making it more interesting and easier for our pets to hold and bite into it. Rats really like to move their food around with their paws and “play” with it.
Of course, give your pet rat some fresh food once in a while, like pasta, eggs, fruit, and veggies! They love treats and this way, won’t get tired of the same food every day either. A change once in a while is always good!
Can Rats Eat Guinea Pig Food?
I’ve already mentioned this, but your pet rat will probably eat or try to eat anything you put in front of him/her. So it comes to us to choose what’s good or bad for them.
Here’s the thing about Guinea Pig food: they’re based on hay and alfalfa. I’ve already talked about alfalfa, but rats will have a hard time digesting both of these.
So no, just like the Hamster or Gerbil food, your pet rat shouldn’t eat Guinea Pig mixes! Not only they’re hard for your rattie to digest, but they’re nutritional needs are very different. Bad nutrition will lower your pet’s immune system, just like with any living being.
Be safe and always give them food made specifically for them! There are mixes of food for different rodents and they should be bought accordingly.
Can rats eat meat? Rats are omnivores, so the meat won’t be bad for them. You can give them some meat as a treat once in a while. Preferably boiled, but if you happen to cook some meat for your dinner, it is perfectly fine to share a little with your rodent friend!
Can rats have peanut butter? It’s not bad for them and they’ll love it! Be careful though. Peanut butter tends to be quite sticky. This means that if you give them too much of it, they can choke. Let them lick bits of it from your fingers, for example!
Can rats have cheese? You can give your rats some cheese. But make it a very special treat! Cheese is very high on fat and it won’t be good for your pet rats if you give it to them in high amounts.
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